James “Jim” Withers, age 77, of Osakis passed away on Saturday evening, February 25, 2012, surrounded by family at the St. Cloud Hospital.
On June 6, 1934, a baby boy was born to Milo and Mary (Zimmerman) Withers on the family farm near Smith Lake, just west of Osakis. They named him James LeRoy Withers. During World War II, the Withers family lived briefly in Omaha, Nebraska, while Milo worked in a bomber factory before returning to Osakis.
Jim graduated from Osakis High School with the class of 1952. He served his country proudly in the United States Army, stationed in Texas and Virginia during the Korean War. On September 7, 1954, Jim was married to Janice Clarno of Alexandria in Port Smith, Virginia. They renewed their marriage vows for their 50th wedding anniversary.
After his honorable discharge, Jim returned with his bride to the Osakis area and attended the University of Minnesota before leaving school early to help as a machinist at his family’s business, known as Withers Manufacturing. Jim would live in Osakis the rest of his life and operate the business until his retirement in 2000. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Osakis.
Jim had many interests and hobbies. He had an interest in and was an avid collector of various types of antique gas engines and other antique collectibles. This led him to become involved in area pioneer and threshing associations. He belonged to and was very active in the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers’ Reunion in Rollag, the annual Albany Pioneer Days in Albany, the Lake Region Pioneer Threshers’ Association of Dalton, and attended the Divide County Threshing Bee in Crosby, ND, and the Cool Spring Power Museum of Cool Spring, PA. He made many friends at these various events and was well known throughout the United States and Canada for his Otto Gas Engine collection and restoration work.
Jim loved to get outdoors and enjoy nature with many hours on the lake fishing, and working in his garden. He was a charter member of the Osakis Country Club and active in local bowling leagues. He was a loving and doting father, grandfather and brother, who will be dearly missed by his family and friends.
Jim is survived by his children, Jeff (Sherry) Withers of Fargo, ND, Lynn (Tom) Chouanard of Nelson, Sue (Stan) Anderson of Browerville, Keven (Eva) Withers of Osakis, and Jody (Diana) Withers of Richfield; 12 grandchildren; four stepgrandchildren; six great-grandchildren; nine great-stepgrandchildren; sister, Marilyn (Ruben) Bjorkman of Warroad; sisters-in-law, Joan Clarno, Audrey Thompson, Marceline (Allen) Peterson; and nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Milo and Mary; his wife, Janice, who died in 2010; his brother Larry; and nephew, Logan Withers.
Funeral services for Jim were held on Friday, March 2 at First Presbyterian Church in Osakis with the Rev. Tim Sutton officiating. Musicians were organist Lynn Olson and soloist Dana Hetland. Interment was at West Evergreen Cemetery in Osakis with military honors presented by the Osakis VFW Post #7902 Honor Guard. Honorary bearers were his great-grandchildren, great-stepgrandchildren, and Jerry Swedberg, David and Gary Collins, and Darrell Schultz. Active pallbearers were his grandchildren, Jeremy Withers and Ashley Venske; Eric, Jessie and Elizabeth Chouanard, Andrea Anderson and Kristin Anderson; Brittany and Scott Anderson; Joshua, Rachel and Luke Withers; and stepgrandchildren Darcy Anderson, Buffy Holbrook, AJ Anderson and Matt Knudson.
Arrangements are with Roy-Hetland Funeral Home in Osakis; www.royhetland.com.
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